Thursday, February 17, 2011

Brotherly Love at Daytona

   Brian Keselowski didn’t have a teammate to race with on Thursday.

   He didn’t need one. He had a brother.

   Brian, the older brother of Sprint Cup Series driver Brad Keselowski, found his brother during the second Gatorade Duel 150-mile qualifying race and the two worked together to form a fast two-car tandem, which has become commonplace in the racing here this week.

   Late in the race, the brothers managed to even contend for the race lead before eventually Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer took control of the outcome.

   Brain Keselowski, with Brad’s help, still finished fifth – good enough to ensure a starting position in Sunday’s Daytona 500. Brad ended up seventh and was already assured a spot in the field.

   As the cars stopped on pit road following the race, Brad walked over to Brian’s car and stuck his head inside. As Brad left, Brian could be seen wiping tears from his eyes.

   Good things still do happen to good people.

   “We wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for him,” Brian said of Brad. After Brian's midrace difficulty, "I went back there with him to make sure that he could get up behind us. We tried to work together to find a hole (through the field).”

   Brian Keselowski, 29, will be making his first career Sprint Cup start on Sunday. Brad, 26, already has a Cup victory and on a fast track to a big time NASCAR career.

   Brad will race Sunday in a well-prepared, top-of-the-line Dodge from Penske Racing - not a bad deal when Penske teammate Kurt Busch has so far won all the races he's entered at Speedweeks.

   Brian came to Daytona Beach with a car built in 2006 by Evernham Motorsports, engine help from Ernie Elliott and no full sponsorship.

   Asked after the race if he and his brother ever talked about racing in the Daytona 500 together, Brad said, "I’m not sure if we dreamed about it, but I did dream about the day that we didn’t beat each other up.”

   No matter the result on Sunday, Brad Keselowski will continue racing the rest of the 36-race Cup season.

   Now that he's assured a spot in the field, Brian Keselowski will make enough money in the 500 regardless of where he finishes to continue racing at Phoenix next weekend.

   In that sense, Brad has already made Brian a winner this week.